Frequently Asked Questions
1. If you are a dog trainer, why are you “training people to train their dogs”?
Dogs learn through hundreds of repetitions! You and your family spend the most time with your dog. It is not possible for a trainer who comes to your home once a week or less to train your dog if you yourself are not practicing the exercises and management techniques prescribed by the trainer.
2. How long will it take to train my dog?
That depends on how much time you spend training your dog and the individual dog him/herself. Are you training a new behavior or trying to get rid of an old behavior? It usually takes less time to train a new behavior than it does to eliminate an unwanted behavior that has been practiced for some time.
3. Why does my dog sit beautifully in my living room, but ignores me when I ask for a sit in the dog park, the training classroom, or anywhere outside my home? Is he just being stubborn?
No, your dog is not being stubborn! Learning is ALWAYS affected by the level of distractions in the environment, and the height of arousal in your dog. The more distractions there are, the harder it is for your dog to pay attention. And the more excited your dog is, the harder it is for him to pay attention. Asking for a sit in the middle of a busy dog park from a dog who hasn’t practiced there is like giving a college exam to a first grader! In modern training we begin to train behaviors in a low distraction environment, usually (but not always!) your home. After the dog has had multiple successes there over time, you then begin to introduce more distractions. For example, if you’ve practiced a walking exercise at home and your dog has it down cold, when you bring this exercise outside you must make sure to set the dog up to succeed by practicing in a quiet area at first. If, during your attempts to gradually increase the level of distractions you reach a point where your dog cannot pay attention, it is time to quit for the day! Just wait until the next time and go back to the last distraction level that your dog can successfully work at and practice more there. Also, when upping the distractions it also helps to increase the value of the reward you are using. If liver treats work fine at home but are ignored by your dog outside, then try deli turkey, roast chicken, or cheese to get your dog’s attention
The Fun Way to Optimize Owner/Pet Relationships!
Raising Canine Maine
Mallory Hattie, CPDT-KA